Director: Sam Loh
Cast: Angeline Yap, Vivienne Tseng, William Lawandi, Esther Goh, Alan Tan, Sunny Pang, Cynthia Kuang, Adeline Pang, Vincent Tee, Tracer Wong
Runtime: 1 hr 20 mins
Rating: R21 (Sexual Scenes and Homosexual Content)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment and Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 5 March 2015
Synopsis: What do you get when you combine these ‘ingredients’: - Pork rib soup - A con-man who targets and prey on innocent woman on dating websites - Two attractive sisters, where the younger sister plans to murder the older one? You get a twisted tale of sex, betrayal, double-crossing and murder set in the hot tropical climate of Singapore. A genre film in the vein of ‘Audition’ and ‘Dumpling’ – ‘Lang Tong’ is an edgy and unconventional local film unlike anything you have seen before. Zack, the lead protagonist, believes his ‘conquests’ are like making good pork rib soup – you need to put in effort, have the right ingredients, patience and skill in order to brew the best soup. Thus, when Li Ling, an alluring and financially stable woman, who happens to make good pork rib soup, comes into his life and becomes his next ‘target’, he is hooked. To complicate matters, along comes Li er, the younger nymphet sister of Li Ling. She is a rebellious, sexy and dangerous creature all roll into one. Zack makes the fatal mistake of sleeping with this ‘Lolita’. She plays and manipulates Zack to carry out her murderous plan of killing her older sister. Since their mother’s death, Li er has always blamed Li ling for causing their mother’s demise after their father left them for another woman. Though Zack is torn between the two women, eventually he succumbs to Li er’s wile and carries out her murderous plan… But things are not as simple as what Zack thinks…
It’s, ahem, hard. Sorry for the attempt at, err, inserting, a pun to begin this review (ok, stop the wordplay already!). What this writer is trying to say is, it’s difficult not paying attention to this local movie. Just look at the poster – it advertises itself as “Singapore’s most controversial film!”. Then you watch the trailer and you see lots of sensuous scenes. Wait, are those naked breasts we saw? Any curious (and more so, hot blooded male viewers) would have their curiosity, erm, aroused (this is the last one, we promise).
Yet, it is also a challenge recommending this movie. We all know how trailers show you the best bits of the movie so you will fork out money to pay for a ticket to watch the action on the big screen. Here, the filmmakers have cleverly boosted the volume of dramatic soundtrack, and of course, played up the seemingly steamy sex scenes, Yes, as we’ve seen from Sam Taylor Johnson’s “erotic romance drama” that is Fifty Shades of Grey: sex sells.
What audiences don’t see, or in this case, hear, is the very bad dialogue the characters spout throughout the 80 minute movie. The lines are so cheesy and badly written, you’d find yourself chuckling at the absurdness most of the time. In case you are wondering, that’s not the worst in store for viewers. The unconvincing and wooden acting is so intolerably bad, you don’t care for the supposedly chilling premise which involves bak kut teh (pork rib soup) and without giving too much away, a homosexual themed twist.
The story’s male protagonist is a womaniser who charms ladies into bed, cheats them of their money and then dumps them. Enter his latest target, a sexy woman who has an equally sexy younger sister. The scum soon learns it doesn’t pay to be a womaniser as a murderous scheme begins plotting.
First, we just cannot accept the casting of William Lawandi as a suave womaniser. True he looks like a horny baddie, but how he manages to get those girls in bed is befuddling. No thanks to this reviewer belonging to the male species, Lawandi’s co stars Vivienne Tseng and Angeline Yap fare better in their roles as a pair of titillating sisters with some dark secrets to hide.
Director Sam Loh lists Takashi Miike’s cult movie Audition (1999) and Fruit Chan’s critically acclaimed Dumplings (2004) as his sources of inspiration for this movie, but this columnist couldn’t feel chills down his spine like how he would after watching a good shocker. So when “the moment”, hmm, comes (sorry, we just can’t help it with these puns!), it’s expectedly bland.
For seasoned moviegoers, the title “Lang Tong”, which means nice soup in Cantonese, would already provide hints to what the story is getting at. Those who are catching this movie for the sex scenes would be satisfied, though you may want to note that about three minutes of explicit scenes have been cut from the film festival version. It is easy to see why this title sold out quickly when it premieres at the Singapore International Film Festival last year. Yes, sex sells.
(No thanks to the, ahem, stiff acting, it is, erm, hard to recommend this trying movie)
Review by John Li